Online gambling websites lay major claim to the top spots in The Sunday Times Rich List for 2009, with almost half of the top 10 positions occupied by individuals with online gambling interests.

Although the top dog on the list was Peter Cruddas, founder and owner of Internet securities dealer CMC on GBP 1 billion, industry observers will not be surprised to learn that Party Gaming founders Ruth Parasol and husband Russ De Leon are in second place with a reported fortune of GBP 700 million even in these tough times in terms of international economies.

Party Gaming also fields Anurag Dikshit and former marketing director Vikrant Bhargava, both primary shareholders who ranked 3rd on GBP 559 million and 9th on GBP 230 million respectively, despite Dikshit's seriously expensive (at $300 million) "settlement" earlier this year with the American Justice Department.

Bet365 founders Peter and Denise Coates, placed 6th on the list, with a reputed personal worth of GBP 400 million invested in their their Stoke, UK-based operation.

Betfair placed three execs in the top 20, including founders Ed Wray at 11th (GBP 190 million) and Andrew Black at 12th (GBP 185 million). Equity investment manager Richard Koch placed 17th on the list with a Betfair stake worth (GBP 129 million).

Other prominent fortunes listed include those of Web hosting services firm Planet Online founder Peter Sykes at 4th (GBP 550 million) and investor Peter Wilkinson at 7th (GBP 301 million).

The online top 10 was rounded out by Google's Michael Moritz in 5th (GBP 470 million), Bebo's Michael and Xochi Berch at 8th (GBP 250 million) and Miniclip founder Tihan Presbie at 10th (GBP 196 million).

On the general list, the horrendous impact of the recession on the fortunes of wealthy personalities was well illustrated.

Steel industry magnate Lakshmi Mittal remained on the top of the list this year, despite being 2009's biggest loser, having watching over GBP 16.9 billion evaporate from his empire. Mittal, still worth over GBP 10 billion, was followed by Russian entrepreneur Roman Abramovich, who lost GBP 4.7 billion of his wealth this year but still managed to hang in there with GBP 7 billion.

They were not alone - the crippling decline in the global economy wiped GBP 155 billion off last year's list, the biggest fall since it was first compiled 21 years ago.

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